Projecting the long-term outlook for the Pirates after the Mitch Keller extension

What will Pittsburgh's roster look like as Keller wraps up his new deal in 2028?

Sep 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) throws
Sep 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) throws / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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No. 3 - Comparing with the rest of the NL Central

When considering the players currently signed to NL Central teams through 2028, the Reds seem to be using the same playbook as the Pirates. Fireballer Hunter Greene signed an extension prior to the 2023 season, and many of the promising young players, including Elly De La Cruz, T.J. Friedl, and Matt McLain, are a few years out from arbitration. They, like the Pirates, have five prospects on MLB.com’s Top 100 list, so reinforcements are waiting in the wings.

The window may be closing on the Cardinals, who are projected by FanGraphs to win the division this year. They have only three prospects in the Top 100, and Willson Contreras, Jordan Walker, and Nolan Gorman are virtually the only major players who are likely to be on the team in 2028. Similarly, the Brewers have locked in top prospect Jackson Chourio through 2033, but the majority of Milwaukee roster will be entering free agency in the next couple of years.

The Cubs have the most question marks in terms of long-term development. Dansby Swanson and Shota Imanaga are the biggest names tied to the North Side for the next several seasons, but Chicago has seven prospects ranked in the Top 100. The Cubs also have the deepest pockets and could change the divisional landscape with free-agent signings between now and 2028.

The choice to lock down Keller until 2028 alongside Hayes and Reynolds provides the Pirates with some stability. With the development of a couple of other highly ranked prospects, the addition of a few solid bats, and an extension for Cruz (if he bounces back from injury this season), Pittsburgh could be in shape to compete in the latter half of the 2020s.

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